Alexander Radulov borrows a fan's replica jersey during game
By SCOTT GLEESON | USA Today | Published: September 26, 2018
TULSA, Okla. (Tribune News Service) — Die-hard Dallas Stars fan Levi Patton usually sits in the nosebleed seats to watch his favorite team.
But for a preseason game against the Florida Panthers at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, he opted for an upgrade near the glass, driving five-plus hours from his home in Amarillo, Texas, in hopes of a "cool experience."
Little did Patton know how valuable his upgrade — and an over-sized Christmas present he wore to the game — would be to one of his favorite players.
Patton said a Stars equipment manager approached him in the stands and asked if the team could borrow his extra-large Alexander Radulov No. 47 jersey for the final two periods — as a result of a wardrobe malfunction. The Dallas right winger was seen tugging at an official Adidas jersey that didn't fit well in the first period, prompting Patton to save the day by lending his Fanatics replica jersey to Radulov.
"You could see his jersey didn't fit and it was all wrinkled up like an accordion," Patton told USA TODAY Sports by phone on Tuesday. "Then all the sudden an (equipment manager) came into the stands and asked me what size jersey I was wearing. I said, 'You're talking to me?' After I told him extra-large, he asked if I minded if (Radulov) wore it.
"When (Radulov) came out onto the ice wearing my jersey, I was just floored."
His girlfriend, Nicole Auryn-Plummer, bought Patton the jersey for Christmas and joked of the jersey exchange: "He took that jersey off so fast and tossed it right to them. He had no shame."
Following a 4-3 Stars loss, Patton said he left Tulsa with his sweaty, tattered, game-worn jersey that was returned and autographed — and brought home a story that's gone viral since he shared it on Facebook.
"I got the jersey back and it was soaking wet. It absolutely reeks, and was not smelling the best," Patton said.
The makers of the replica jersey, Fanatics, have offered a solution to the stench by paying to have it framed and also sending Patton and his girlfriend extra jerseys.
"The whole experience is just surreal," Patton said. "One hundred things could've made it play out differently. But I was just in the right place at the right time."
A person associated with the Stars organization confirmed to USA TODAY Sports the jersey malfunction and that Radulov wore the fan's replica jersey for two periods but requested anonymity because it was an awkward situation.
Contributing: Kevin Allen